Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Super Bowl Is ABC's NFL Finale

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Super Bowl Is ABC's NFL Finale

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT

ABC Sports will attempt to leave a defining mark as it departs the NFL world Sunday with its telecast of Super Bowl XL from Detroit.

After revolutionizing NFL broadcasting 35 years ago with Monday Night Football, the network opted out of the package following reports that ABC was losing about $150 million per year on its eight-year deal with the league. The deal expired after the 2005 regular season.

All that's left for the network is to go out on a high with its telecast of the highest-rated television show of the year. ABC Sports and ESPN, both owned by Disney -- the latter signed an eight-year deal to replace ABC on the Monday Night package -- will present 9 1/2 hours of live programming leading up to the game, which kicks off at 6:25 p.m.

In hopes of boosting sagging NBA numbers, ABC will show the Houston Rockets at New York Knicks game at noon, followed by 3 1/2 hours of pre-Super Bowl coverage.

ESPN starts six hours of coverage at 11 a.m. with a Super Bowl edition of Sunday NFL Countdown. The cable network has a dozen pre-packaged features -- including a look back at the 1985 Chicago Bears and stories on Troy Polamalu, Ken Hamlin, Joey Porter and Jerome Bettis -- that will air from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

ABC's pregame coverage with host Chris Berman and analysts Michael Irvin, Tom Jackson and Steve Young will feature a "Celebration of the Decades" theme to mark the 40th anniversary of the Super Bowl, with each half hour until 5 p.m. recognizing a decade of past Super Bowls. Among other features: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick breaks down four of the most dominating defenses in Super Bowl history; and a look back 25 years ago when 52 Americans who were held hostage for 444 days in Iran returned to the United States on Super Bowl Sunday.

ABC said it will use ESPN's large presence at the game.

"There is no competition between the two groups. We are one, on the side of ABC," said Berman, who will serve as that network's host throughout the daye. …

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